Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

Album: Rubber Soul (1965)
Play Video
  • I once had a girl
    Or should I say she once had me
    She showed me her room
    Isn't it good Norwegian wood?

    She asked me to stay
    And she told me to sit anywhere
    So I looked around
    And I noticed there wasn't a chair

    I sat on a rug biding my time
    Drinking her wine
    We talked until two and then she said
    "It's time for bed"

    She told me she worked
    In the morning and started to laugh
    I told her I didn't
    And crawled off to sleep in the bath

    And when I awoke I was alone
    This bird had flown
    So I lit a fire
    Isn't it good Norwegian wood? Writer/s: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
    Publisher: Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 126

  • Ultrapurple from UkI'm amazed that people would see arsonist tones at the end of this song. At the time it was written, central heating was quite rare in Britain and it would be perfectly normal to light a fire - in the room's fireplace - first thing in the morning. Gas heaters (referred to as a 'gas fire') were also reasonably common but there were (and still are as of 2021) large parts of the UK with no domestic gas supply.

    Of course, if the Beatles actually mentioned arson when discussing the song then that's fine. I don't know.
  • Chickcaptain45 from Clumbeathis is a rock song not a pop song its was popular in it's time but not pop
  • Clemence from New YorkWhen I was a child (in the 70s) somehow I got it into my head that he crawled off to sleep in the bath because she said she worked in the morning and he didn't believe in women working outside the home. And the idea that she had a job when he didn't even have one was a big turnoff.
  • Barry from Gagetown NbIn 1987 on a work trip to Norway, I cut a small branch off a tree stripped the bark. Still have it as an ornament and conversation piece. Even more unique and interesting now that there is all this updated info on the ever popular Beatles classic hit! A real piece of Norwegian Wood!
  • Eric from Azomg...
    here are the obvious clues:
    she once had me (he was had, as in being duped or done wrong).
    she told him she worked in the morning and laughed (she denied him sex).
    he woke up alone, and realized that he was a fool.
    he lit a fire of norweigan wood, which was what her room contained and/or was made with.
    you that don't get this are beyond dense. sheesh!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 31st 1967, Buddy Rich and his Orchestra performed "Norwegian Wood" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    There are numerous videos of Mr. Rich performed the song on You Tube...
    Bernard 'Buddy' Rich passed away on April 2nd, 1987 at the age of 69...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Coy from Palestine, TxJohn said about his songs "They're only words, they don't mean anything". Wow, do some people over think Beatle's songs? It is about a guy having a sexual encounter in front of a fire place. That's it. By the way, Jan and Dean did a great version of this song!
  • Cougar from Aldergrove, BcThe best comment on this entire was by Andrew from Philadelphia, who advises everyone to listen to the lyrics more closely. The line, as sung, is "So, I lit the fire..." It is not "So, I lit a fire..." All the controversy about this song comes from mis-hearing one little word. The only way that the phrase "the fire" could mean arson is if we were already talking about a newspaper report of a specific house or apartment fire, in which case, "the fire" would refer to a specific fire that all the listeners already knew about. As it is, the phrase indicates that the words "the fire" refer to a specific fire that the listener would already know about in this house or apartment, such as what would be in a fireplace.

    The Beetles did have a sardonic relationship with their fans, so Paul's sarcastic comment that it was about John torching the place of a girl refused him was clearly hyperbole about John's skill in bedding women. Even that is a clue. Someone who can essentially seduce anyone he wants isn't going to be so upset at a frustrating evening that he torches a woman's home for not putting out.

    But that's my speculative take. What's really important is to listen to the lyrics as sung, not as assumed. The idea that the lyrics are "So, I lit a fire..." is clearly just an urban myth--the carelessness of an early transcriber becoming the accepted reality for all eternity.

    Weird creatures we humans be.
  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaThis sounds like a song that's about the Beatles experiences in Hamburg with prostitutes.
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenI the magazine Rolling Stones, "100 greatest Beatles songs", among the first 20 songs, Lennon has 11 or 12, ! McCartney has 4, Harrison 2 and Lennon-McCartney have 2 or 3. ( Strawberry Fields is no 3, Yesterday no 4) Lennon´s Norwegian wood is no 12. Not a single song by McCartney from Sgt Pepper.
  • Gilda from San Francisco, CaMy cousin who was 15 when this song was released and who is very much into the drug culture told me that Norwegian wood is marijuana. "This bird had flown" has a double meaning referring to the girl having left the apartment and also that the man's marijuana cigarette had finished. The bird having flown is an allusion to the marijuana smoke having floated away, so he lights another joint. Also the line "she once had me" means "she had him at hello", as one might say, and also that she cheated or deceived him (to be had) -- he thought he was going to have sex with her. She laughed because she knew he wanted her but she didn't have the time and he was in no condition to perform from the wine and the pot. She was a little embarrassed, flattered and teasing at the same time. He slept in the bathtub because there wasn't a chair and he was too stoned to leave.
  • Dick from Washington, DcI agree, this is about as straight-forward a little tale as could be. Join her in her flat, "sit anywhere" would be an invitation to the bed since there's no other furniture as her laughing points out, but he's too shy, too married, or something. He sits on the floor, they "rap" all night until she has to get some sleep (no sex, missed his opportunity), he sleeps in the tub (could have been on the floor, but tub is funnier), finds her gone in the morning, lights a fire and thinks about it.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlLove this song! AMAZING! Makes me want to sing it all the time!!!
  • Kristian from Vancouver, BcI am Norwegian and I think I know where this lyrics comes from.
    Being Norwegian is much about being in the nature while on the family cabin.
    This song is about a memory from a cabin in Norway made of Norwegian wood and the girl of course.
    If you guys have seen twin peaks and been to the state of Washington , there you have the Norwegian style of cabins.
  • Breanna from Heber, UtSeriously everytime I hear this song I think of playing pool at one of my friends houses, great never going to be able to hear the great song without thinking of that now, lovely, but I really do like this song it's very clasic Lennon.
  • Joyce from Oakland, CaJust wanted to add my interpretation of John's beautiful masterpiece, Norwegian Wood (from a female perspective). John had said, and I believe it's true, that he was speaking about all of the affairs he had that his wife didn't know about. I think he felt guilty and wanted to confess, but knew he could not, so he did the next best thing, wrote a song about it! For John, this is how he could best exorcise his demons. Then he could confess, without having to really confess, relieve some of his guilt, and still be able to say, "oh, it's just a song"! So, now to the song itself!
    I think the "I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me?" meant, "which is it, as we each participated? It depends on your point of view." "She showed me her room." That's what girls do when they are interested in a guy. " Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood?" I believe is just John commenting on the decor, probably (cheap) wood panelling on the walls, very common in those days. Also, is this whole thing (having a sexual affair) a good idea? "She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere" Again, it's what you do when you invite a guy to your place, i.e., anywhere you want is fine; no big deal). "So I looked around and I noticed there wasn't a chair." Being sarcastic/funny: "why did you tell me to sit, if you haven't got a chair?"
    Perhaps she had a very small place, and not much in the way of furnishings (maybe some throw pillows instead of chairs, which is what I had in my apartment, because of the times, and also because pillows are cheaper and I prefer to sit on the floor anyway). "I sat on the rug (the floor), biding my time, drinking her wine." The girl offers him some cheap wine and they talk. The situation is a little awkward. Also, the girl is probably waiting for him to make some kind of an advance, but he doesn't because he is unsure/nervous about the whole thing. "We talked until 2 (a.m., because they are nervous, and trying to get to know one another at least a little, so it won't feel so much like a one night stand, or that you're going to bed with a stranger), and then she said, it's time for bed". She realizes it's getting late, she really is very interested, and is trying to get him to kiss her/have sex with her. She is desperate to have him (who wouldn't be?), and has had enough talking! Haven't we all experienced this? Then, I find it very interesting that this is the only place in the song where there is a musical interlude. I think this is where they are having sex, but he obviously cannot say that, so music is playing instead, courtesy of the wonderfully talented George! "She told me she worked in the morning, and started to laugh." Exactly that! When you are a girl that has a job, as most girls do, after the sex is completed, you realize it is now 4 a.m., and you have to get up in 2 hours to get ready for work, so you are saying "I have to get some sleep!" Personally, I would have called in sick; very poor judgement on her part! " I told her I didn't, and crawled off to sleep in the bath." He obviously does not have to get up and go to work in the morning, as he is John Lennon, and can go to work (or not), usually either later in the day, or whenever he feels like it, but he leaves the bed because he realizes she is saying she does not want him waking her to have sex again, as she has to get up soon for work. He goes off someplace else to sleep. He says "the bath", like "the couch", or not with her. "And when I awoke, I was alone: this bird had flown." He wakes up and finds that she has left for work, so he gets up and lights a fire in the fireplace and has a cup of tea, contemplating what has happened the night before (the affair/affairs). "Isn't it good, norwegian wood?" Was/is the affair/affairs) a good idea?
    Anyway, this is what I think.
    I don't think that he meant he was going to burn down the apartment, although if Paul mentioned the idea and said, "that would be just like you, John, if she turned you down, you'd burn down the place" I think John would like the triple meaning (1. cheap wood panelling 2. was the affair a good idea after all? 3. maybe I meant she turned me down and I torched the place!

    So there it is. One day I will ask him, and then I will know if I was right or not! Until then, what do you think?
  • Matt from Cleveland, OhThe song has got to be about an affair if Lennon said it himself in Rolling Stone. What happens during the encounter is what needs to be interpreted. Just because it is about an affair doesn't mean that he is describing any exact occurances (he is just releasing his thoughts about an affair) The song is about a guy and a girl who want to have sex but neither want to make the first move since its an affiar. She drops hints (she asked him to stay)so he'll make the first move, but he holds out waiting for her to make the first move. (She invites him to her bedroom for crying out loud -they know what's going on - their drinking) She asks him to sit, but there is no chairs - she wants him to sit on the bed. He sits on the rug waiting for her to tell him to use the bed. I once had a girl or should I say she once had me (they each had the chance but blew the opportunity waiting for the other to initiate). Biding my time(wating for her to take him) - We talked until 2am (they weren't having sex) It's time for bed (she is frustrated that nothing happened and has given up) She started to laugh (one last playful attempt to get him to jump into bed - last chance) He slept in the bath. I was alone, this bird had flown (the bird had flown clearly represents missing your chance (I'm such an idiot any guy tells himself after they didn't have the nerve to "go for it") I lit a fire (the guy just seems to timid and reserved to burn the place down (my wife disagrees). I think he fired a J. Hope you have a critique for my thoughts.
  • Brian from Boston, MaThis song is played with a capo on the second frett. The first chord is a D but with the capo on 2 it is raised one full step to E. This is without question one of the Beatles best songs.For those just learnig guitar and may only know a few chords this is a great song to learn.It is a great way to learn arpiggiating and strumming in the same song.It takes some practice but it is not that difficult to learn and it sounds great. The Beatles used mostly Gibson acoustic guitars. Gibsons as a rule tend to have a rich tone. Unlike some other guitars that have a real bright tone.Gibsons are expensive guitars but they are worth every penny. Acoustic guitars are more expensive than electric guitars of equal value because acoustics are hand made.To guitar players just starting out I say that a good quality guitar is important. Guitars of lesser quality are very difficult to keep in tune. If you are constantly trying to get your guitar in tune frustration sets in and sometimes that effects ones enthusiasm. I know I'm going on a little bit of a rant but I do think if your going to take the time to learn guitar everything you learn will sound better on good quality guitar.I have heard Norweigan wood played on cheap guitars in videos on the internet and they sound terrible.Martin is another good guitar it tends to be more bright in tone than Gibson but some songs sound better on bright guitars. Try to find a guitar with a tonal balance [not too bright and not too rich]Anyway good luck in all your musical endevors
  • Brian from Boston, MaThe name of this song was going to be called I knew she would. At least that is what I read somewhere The title however was to obviously a reference to sex so it was changed.I am amazed at how this song has been interpreted. To me it is probably one of the most straight foward songs written by the Beatles John and some girl meet, go to her unfurnished house have sex,in the morning she goes to work, he lights a fire I always assumed he just lit the fireplace.
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayFrank Marino & Mahogany Rush has made a great cover of this song.. You should really take a listen to it.:D
  • Craig from Newport Beach, CaAccording to Nirvana's manager, Kurt Cobain listened to NORWEGIAN WOOD over and over when he was writing ALL APOLOGIES. (The two songs do have a similar vibe.)
  • Rupert from Sa;esville, WiRupert again - I had not yet watched Jake's youtube press conference when I suggested that the arson affirmation by Paul or John was a 'condescendingly witty reply'. The video illustrates this perfectly.
  • Rupert from Sa;esville, WiAug 2009 A few observations: In the opening phrase, the 'had' in '...she once had me.' might be interpreted as a cheat or scam. That is, the young lady in question had motives other than social for the invite. This would be in keeping with the tenor of the rest of the song. The first mention of 'Norwegian wood' is clearly sarcasm aimed at a cheap flat. Not a house, but an apartment, indicated by her showing him her 'room'. Jump to the last, and most troublesome line of the tune. The protagonist sings '...this bird has flown. So I lit a fire...'. The word 'so' makes me think that had she not left, he would not have lingered to make the fire, which I feel is in a fireplace or some source of lighting, nothing as sinister as arson. The final reference to 'Norwegian wood' first serves a technical function by framing the song. Also, now it is not a satirical thought, but more reflective: Maybe, with the right person, Norwegian wood wouldn't be so bad after all.....
    I do not believe the arson interpretation because firstly, it would be way beyond crazy to set fire to an apartment building of some sort, but mostly because it would ruin the artistry of the piece.

    I have a hunch that any affirmation by John or Paul that arson is what they intended might possibly be a typical, somewhat condescendingly witty reply to yet another bothersome 'Hidden Beatles Lyrics' question posed by a fan or reporter.
  • Lucy from Lutz, FlThis song is so cool cause it has some of my favorite things sarcasm, sitar, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxNorwegian Wood used in cheap furniture...hum - isn't this like the 60s version of IKEA?
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnI love the sound of the sitar. I love when John tried to channel his inner-Bob Dylan.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mojake, thats probably one of the funniest things ive ever seen. lol
  • Jake from Newyork, NyThis videos sums up all the confusion.
  • Andy from Lake City, Fl"norwegian wood" is an erection. "she worked in the morning (she would attempt sex again)" "i didn't" (couldn't get wood) so "she laughed" "i crawled in the bath (intoxicated and/or embarrassed) "lit a fire" is OBVIOUSLY smoking a joint. only then alone does he get the erection but is still grateful for it. those of you that thought john lennon wanted to literally burn a house have missed the whole playful vibe of the song.
  • Barry from New York, NcThe lyrics of the song "So, I lit a fire" were actually one of McCartney's contributions to the song.

    This is a good example of a Lennon/McCartney collaboration: It was Lennon who had the idea and wrote most of the song and then went to McCartney who added some contributions.
  • Jonathan from Santa Clarita, CaSo here is the meaning of the song as told to me by my dad, who lived the 60's. Norwegian Wood is a common term when referring to marijuana. The song is basically about a guy that goes to this girl's house, smokes a bunch of joints, and passes out in the tub. And when he wakes up to see that she isn't there, he sparks up another joint, hence the line "So I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian Wood." The "fire" is the end of the joint. No one is burning anybody's house down.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mothis is such a john song its ridiculous. who else would write lyrics about having an affair *while he was married himself* with a line that might or might not mean burning down this poor girl's house because she wouldnt have sex with him? only good old john.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxWhen do we get Sitar Hero?
  • E2ggurl from Los Angeles, CaIt's about his affairs, as he says. it's not about Yoko - they met at an art exhibit a year after this song was released.

    It has the unusual feature of being a waltz, so I say it's about the mutual dance of male and female - the male not really able to commit (he's married). He thinks she's brought him up for sex, but time passes, they are both tired (even affairs border on the mundane) and she goes to bed, leaving him to himself.

    When they began recording the song wasn't quite finished, the fire part wasn't in it. Paul says he suggested it as "that's what you (john) would do" if that happened to you (girl wouldn't put out).

    So Michael from baltimore is right. Or at least he sets her room or apt on fire.
  • Jim from Anchorage, AkDec 2008

    This is a terrific bunch of comments.

    Without knowing much about Beatles mythology, I always thought that our protagonist got laid and lit the fireplace.

    As to what (and to whom) the song refers, here's another take:

    Phillip Norman (who wrote "Shout" in 1981) has published an immense (over 300,000 words) Lennon bio - "John Lennon - The Life)

    He thinks Norwegian Wood refers to the paneling in Robert and Sonny Freeman's lower portion of the house they shared with John and Cynthia Lennon.

    When the Beatles moved from Liverpool to London, Mr. and Mrs. Lennon moved into the flat above the Freeman's apartment in South Kensington (p 324). Norman said this would now be termed a duplex but was then called a maisonette (325).

    Freeman photograped the half-shadow shot for the cover of "With the Beatles" - and also shot his wife Sonny in a man's blue denim shirt for the first Pirelli calendar. She was German-born "but growing up in Britain in postwar years preferred to say she was Norwegian."(325)

    Lennon "began a casual affair with Sonny ... one that would remain secret even after Sonnt's Norwegian connection and her wood-paneled flat had been transmorgified into a classic Beatles track."

    I personally find this compelling, but then I am not as steeped in Fab Four culture as many of the others who posted here.

  • Modernrocker79 from Kearny, NjThe Yardbirds hired a sitar player on a unreleased version of "Heart Full Of Soul" George Harrison was the first rock guitarist to actually play one on this track.
  • Bender from East West Virginia, VaRead the book BEATLESONGS by William J. Dowlding. It will show you that, yes, John Lennon meant with the , I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian Wood. that he set the house on fire.
  • Bob from From Somewhere, OrI have a feeling it is a drug refrence, just saying, anyone agree?
  • Rosario from Naples, FlI love this song! I love beatles songs that tell stories. (ex. Rocky Racoon, Obladi Oblada, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, etc.)
  • Mitchell from Rochester, NyThat's one possible interpretation; another is that it's about a musician who picks up what he believes to be a groupie, only to discover that she's in fact a prostitute.

    In my opinion, the song is deliberately ambiguous and intentionally susceptible to multiple interpretations.
  • Eric from Buffalo, NyDefinitely in consideration as my fav Beatles tune. Just discovered this song is one of a select few rock songs to be in myxolodian mode. I'm trying to learn it on the piano as I learn music theory. I always wish they had made a video for this song akin to "Hide Your Love" would be awesome to see George with a sitar and the band just jamming this song out in a room together. At 1:20 of the song I almost always get goose bumps. How can the Beatles be so good?
  • Max from Vancouver, Canadajay, you are wrong. lennon's work is far superior both musically and lyrically. I could list many more than 4 songs of which verify this.

    examples: she said she said, and your bird can sing, im only sleeping, rain, in my life, across the universe, happiness is a warm gun

    this is just naming a few, even his early ones like help and ticket to ride contain metaphors and double meanings.

    but as for this song its a great one for sitting around and reflecting about life. thats why i think when he lights a fire he might be lighting a joint or even just sitting by the fireplace with a cup of tea. either why the ambiguity is what makes it cool.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaI don't even know how accurate this is, but I DID read that the words "Norwegian Wood" were a sound-alike code for "knowing she would." It makes sense, since the song is about a sexual affair: "Isn't it good/Knowing she would."
  • Steve from Fenton, MoJohn loved word games and double meanings of words and phrases. I think the double meaning in this case is 1)Norwegian Wood as in cheap wood paneling in the girls apartment(less than ideal decor), and 2) sexual meaning of wood (as in woke with...) and lighting a fire, masturbation (less than ideal sex/wood) after the girl leads him on only to leave him frustrated in the bathtub. It's understandable that Paul would say publicly the frustrated individual burns down the house if the real meaning is what I suspect.
  • Moshe Lavie from Givataim, IsraelAfter reading most of the comments, I think that kenji kamakura from Japan got exactly to the point: That she obviously invited him over to be intimate but he was slow to get the hint. Then, she came right out and said that it was time to get in bed. He couldn't perform right away and so she told him she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
    It also could be added that the sitar piece just after "it's time for bed" hints that something (that Lennon doesn't tell us) is going on at that time (failing to perform). I guess that Japanese guys (Kenji Kamakura that commented here and Yoko Ono) have good understanding of Lennon's mind :-)
  • Moshe Lavie from Givataim, IsraelHere's another possible point of view:
    The girl does everything to hint that she is interested in an affair with Lennon, but she wants him to be the one to make the first move:
    She invites him to her house (otherwise, he wouldn't have been there).
    She shows him her room.
    She asks him to stay (Probably, to stay in the room, not only in the house. Or to stay for the night).
    Then, she asks him to sit anywhere (Without chairs, the most reasonable option is to sit on the bed. He chooses surprisingly to sit on a rug).
    Desperate, she gives him some wine, Maybe to relax him and to reduce his inhibitions.
    Then, after he doesn't seem to understand all her hints, and she can't stay awake for long time (working in the morning), she gives him another huge hint: "It's time for bed". Somehow, he interprets that as time to sleep rather than time for intimacy.
    Then, she laughs of embarrassment, a kind of: "I work in the morning. If you want me tonight, You've got to do something". Unreasonably, he crawls off to sleep in the bath!! (Of course, alternately, the laugh may be the turning point that she admits she misled him).
    Maybe he didn't take the lead because he was shy or unwilling to fail to perform with that particular girl (even Lennon is not superman).
    Then, in the morning, frustrated, he burned the Norwegian wood. Or, I prefer, He lit his fire, i.e., performed a hand-made self-satisfaction (As could be interpreted also with "come on baby, light my fire" of the Doors).
  • Andrea from Sønderborg, DenmarkI used to be obsessed with this song. In fact, I only bought "Rubber Soul" so I could listen to this ALL THE TIME! Still loooove it.
  • Jay from Syracuse, NyThe lyrics are a mess. A blown chance at something really, really extraordinary. One of the bad myths of the Beatles against all evidence is the general superiority of Lennon's lyrics to McCartney's. The truth is almost the reverse. "Almost" because the 5 or 6 examples of the Beatles' best work bear Lennon's stamp and visionary thrust (e.g., Tomorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields, Mr. Kite, Day in the Life). But song for song, McCartney is typically clearer, more effectively metaphorical, and wittier in handling rhymes and verbal flow. But Lennon's melody here is wonderful--one for the ages.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaI read somewhere that Lennon once hinted that this was about British 1950's star & singer Alma Colgan.
    Anyone know if it's true? She was a bit older than
    John so it sounds a bit dodgy to me...
  • Kenji from Kamakura, JapanShe obviously invited him over to be intimate but he was slow to get the hint. She came right out and said that it was time to get in bed. He couldn't perform right away and so she told him she worked in the morning and started to laugh. Embarrassed, he crawled out of bed and slept in the tub.
  • R from Montreal, Qc, CanadaJohn Lennon voice was a real change from other album with Rubber Soul. If you listen to Norwegian Wood and Girl, the voice is more dramatic or "more concern" with the lyrics. After Nowhere Man, John lennon seemed to be more concerned with the lyrics and changed its way to sing. Still a great song today; very simple guitar line but that's what we call genius.
  • Taylor from Manchester, EnglandThis is might be the first psychedelic song the Beatles did, but it is surely the first raga folk rock song ever in rock music.
  • Brian from Sydney, CanadaThe Rubber Soul album was filled with some poignant relationship themes, this being one, along with 'Drive My Car','You Won't See Me',and " I'm Looking Through You'. The main theme in these songs being the power struggles in a relationship. In this case, he figures he wins because he torched her place.
  • Brian from Sydney, CanadaThe Beatles admitted to meaning that they burned the house or the flat, whatever. That is a fact-go ahead and "google it".
  • Mike from Windsor, CaAn apparently little known fact about Norwegian Wood - it's the only Beatles song in which the word "anywhere" is in the lyrics. ("She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere")
  • George from Yonkers, NyGreat lyrics this has to be the first rock song that combines folk with Indian elements.
  • Lukas from Long Island, NyI love this song, today is actually the first time I looked at the lyrics. I dont think the song is about a girl who dosent put out, but I do think that its about a girl who dosent make a connection with the john emotionally. Shes great, and they communicate, but he's just not into her. The 60's modern look was minimalist, so that explains why her room didn't have a chair, and why it was decked out in cheap wood (I guess "Norwegien Wood" is sort of like particle board, cheap processed wood). When john says this bird is flown (bird is a british slang word for girl) it means he's woken up and shes already gone. I personally think "I lit a fire" means he either smokes a cigarette or some pot, probably pot because then you can make the the argument that he thinks the tacky wood looks good when he's under the influence. Or you can go the other way and take "isn't it good" to mean that the wood is good for starting a fire, and aids in burning the girls house down. This is why I love music, all sorts of conclusions can be drawn.
  • Anne from York , EnglandThis is really should be credited as one of the first psychedelic songs with the sitar and vocal styling,
  • Joe from Montvale, NjA great folk rock song with the sitar. I would call it a folk rock raga song a big influence on the future psychedelic music scene.
  • Vickie from Sydney, AustraliaThis song is not about John's affair with Yoko Ono, re Steven from West Carrollton comments. It was written and recorded in 1965 and as we know, John didn't meet Yoko until late 1966.
  • Vickie from Sydney, AustraliaJust a bit of trivia:
    George bought his first sitar (the one he plays on Norwegian Wood)at a shop called "India Craft" in London. I think he did a very nice job on Norwegian Wood considering he was then only a learner.
  • Sal from Bardonia , NyThe first rock song released to have sitar in it. The Yardbirds only attempted a version with sitar and replaced it with guitar on Heart Full of Soul add another innovation to the Beatles.
  • Jaideep from Pune, IndiaWell, I agree with Pandit Ravi Shankar's statement that the sitar is "really bad". I have a best friend who plays the sitar, and the way Harrison plays it in Norweigian Wood is NOT the way u play it. Nowhere close. If interested, check out some Hindustani classical Sitar pieces by Pandit Ravi Shankar. Now THATS the way it's done.

    Harrison did it just to add something different to the song. That's it. The song gives a very wrong impression about the power of the Sitar!
  • Steven from West Carrollton, OhDave of Georgia, this is about John's affair with Yoko, no more, no less.
  • Dave from Hawkinsville, GaIts about a man who fears intimacy and yearns for it at the same time.
  • Cameron from Bainsville, CanadaWow, I'm looking at how many people actually already knew what it was about. I thought it was some kind of love song, just the 'I, once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me'. But I realise this isn't anything like a love song. I still love it! One of the best on Rubber Soul. And one of the best Beatles songs.
  • Mark from Lancaster, OhI heard 'Norwegian Wood' when it when it was released, and I was disappointed that I couldn't figure it out. I'm delighted to learn that nobody else could, either.
  • Angela from Atlanta, GaWhen a British person refers to "lighting the fire" or "lighting a fire" he means he is turning on the heat, or lighting the gas room heater. Old homes there are not centrally heated like they are in the U.S. Doesn't mean he burned the place down.
  • Darius from Lancaster, CaIt is one of my favorite song by The Beatles
  • Rob from Highland, Nyjohn lennon was having an affair when he was with his first wife; and he wanted to write a song about it without it being too obvious. so the lyrics he wrote were about that. but he had trouble finishing the song, so paul helped him. when paul heard the line about sleeping in the bath, he wanted this girl to pay, so he wrote the line, " so i lit a fire isnt it good norwigian wood." witch means he burt he house down.

    the norwigian wood part is about the crappy wood that girls would put up on there walls to try to make it look fancey, but paul thought it looked tacky and the, "isnt it good norwigian wood" line is sarcastic.
  • Sara from Nashville, TnGoodness! There are a lot of comments on here and not a single one have mentioned it the way I interpreted it...(until today, that is!) I heard this song when I was little and thought that it took place in the woods of Norway. When the song mentioned the thing about noticing there wans't a chair, I thought that meant that he had to sit on a tree stump! lol
  • Steve from Fenton, MoMy interpretation of the song was that John wanted the girl, she wasn't interested in sex. When he wakes up in the morning and the girl is gone, he lights a fire, isn't it good wood (masturbation). The best argument against this interpretation is Yoko Ono. Why, several have asked, would John Lennon marry Yoko Ono when he could have married a woman that was among the most beautiful in the world. For one thing, Yoko Ono was his artistic soulmate. Until the point in time that John Lennon met Yoko, he had sex with so many beautiful women that he became bored with it. And that is difficult to fathom.
  • Aylin from MontrealThe line, "So, I lit the/a fire" was actually what brought me to this page. I wanted to see what other people thought. But reading the idea that he burns the house down, seeing it in print, it just seems ridiculous.
  • Keith from Gilbert, AzSean is dead on. In fact, it seemed so obvious to me that John was the one turning down the girl, that I hadn't even thought about the possibility that she was turning him down until I read this.
    Why he burns down her house in the end though, I can't figure out.
  • Ashley from YarmouthWow, alot of people like to fight about if he burnt her house down, or just lit a fire.... who cares! Its pretty either way! Leave it alone! Ahhh. Such a pretty song...
  • Jed from Watertown, WiI all ways thought that whis was a lobve song about a beautiful one night stand. I dont know why ppl have to ruin a it by saying that he burnt the place down. It means that he lit a fire in the fire place.
  • Stuart from London, EnglandJohn definatley burns the house down at the end
  • Gerard from Honikiwi, New ZealandThe main theme just came to me (!!17!!) yesterday when I was playing the saxophone (and listening to What's the Story (Morning Glory)) although, as usual, in the wrong key. Anyways, I read the thing about Norwegian Wood being cheap pine, as Norway is pretty good at growing the stuff (but not as good as New Zealand, or Chile for that matter). Also, I hardly think the usual boy-girl attitudes applied to a Beatle. Paul apparently added the "fire" bit because, being superstars, not 'getting the girl' was truly wrong.
    That Norah Jones thing is cool, also Ringo's son, Zak Starkey, drummed for The Who and now drums for Oasis.
  • Andy from Hamilton, Canadaits pretty easy to play this on the guitar although its played on a sitar
  • Norman from Detroit, MiI think the term Norweigan wood reffers to "the mods." The mods were all about getting modern looking stuff and getting away from the older generation and norway was making furniture like this for cheap. the girl was trying to get away from older generations by coming on to the man. The Beatles were a big part of the mods during the mid 60's
  • Tim from Stony Point, NyI think PJ from Lowell is correct! So I lit a fire (a joint) isn't it good Norwegian Wood. Tim, New York
  • Hank from Hillsborough, NjAt the end, he burns the place down. How likely is it that she'd have a fireplace in her bedroom? Also, it's possible the girl herself is Norwegian and she gives him "wood" i.e. an erection for the slower folks out there.
  • Jon from Danville, Cai love playing this song on my sitar. I'm sixteen, is there anyone remotely close to my age? jajajaja just kidding, your funny laura!
  • Carissa from La Mirada, CaI think Andrew from Philadelphia has most of it right. However, I do believe what Paul says about him burning down the apartment. It makes sense in Lennon's crazy world. Also Rik from Boston, I don't know what the hell that is but I don't by it.
  • Barry from New York, NcAlthough this is a Lennon vocal, McCartney did write part of the lyrics.
  • John from Boston, MaJoe from Paris, I disagree comepletely! The ending in my opinion is a metaphor for making changes...for example "crossing that bridge when we get to it", you don't actually cross bridges...
  • Joe from Paris, FranceA few comments from an old timer: I only recently learned that the final lines are supposed to be "So I lit a fire/isn't it good?/Norwegian Wood"
    and was shocked. It has never crossed my mind at any time since I first heard the song when the album came out (I was 19 - in fact the song was recorded on my 19th birthday) that the final lines could be anything other than "So I let her fly/isn't it good/Norwegian Wood." And despite what Paul said and whether he was kidding or not, there is no need to think that "the guy burned her apartment down 'cause she wouldn't give him any." Even the artist has no right to impose an interpretation on the listener. If he or she could, we'd be dealing with something other than art.
    No, this song is about unfulfillment. There's no need to ask what happened or didn't happen. I remember a time when it was quite possible for a guy and a girl to sit up until two talking and not "have sex" without either of them being warped. I don't need to know whether they "had sex" or whether he lit a fire in her room or burned her apartment down or whether the insurance company paid off without insisting that the police do a thorough fingerprint check on the enamel of the bathtub and the wine glasses. The story ends when he says "I was alone." After which he says "This bird had flown/So I let her fly..." And that - yes, despite what even the author(s)may say - is the right ending simply because it's more beautiful. And that, my young friends, is what art is about.
  • Matt from Millbrae, Cai heard somewhere that norwegian wood is another phrase for marijuana, bit i mite be wrong.
  • Fred from Baltimore, United Statesshe used him, no love, no challenge just sex, she had a nice room because she worked and he was a workless bum, she asked him to stay (she was making the calls) then he sat on the bed (its her ROOM) and he she did him. When they finished he sat on the rug to get something extra on the deal.
    Here is where the story changes making the confusion, see, now she want's him out.
    She stand him until 2 and now she wants to get rid of him (it's time for bed, i work in the morning) get OUT of here!!!
    He wants to keep taking advantage and so cinical he stays, next morning she left, no feelings no goodbyes to her one night stand, but he once again took advantage of the situation and he spends his mornig at her place, he must had eaten her food, and spending his time on her nice room (There is NO REASON to burn down her place).
    A liberated sexually active working woman and a Workless cinical man. Very ahead of it's time song.
  • Jon from Danville, CaI haven't read all the comments, so i dont know if anyone has touched on this, but i think that the two in the song do have sex and afterwords the girl saying she has to work in the morning means that she is blowing him off, making it a one-night-stand. The man, who was looking for more, says that it is norwegian wood, which is fake wood, do to that fact that she seemed like she wanted more, he then sits in her house, lights a fire(in the fireplace) and thinks of how he was tricked.
  • Andrew from Phialdelphia, Paok kids, lets take this one slowly, its a toughie. one of the most important things that hasnt been said here about that tricky last line is that, if you listen closely and dont sing along when you hear it, the rubber soul version clearly has john saying "so, i lit THE fire" not "her" fire, not "a" fire. this would seem to suggest that he lit the fireplace and sat back and reveled about the night before, as he was now alone in the room. perhaps he did have the control after all. also, after the line "and then she said, its time for bed" there is an extra long instrumental part, implying that they did indeed have sex. the instrumental is, i.e., like an interlude that implies actions that cant really be sung about, especially in 1965. so they do have sex. then afterwards, she says she has to work, and laughs, because now their relationship is more laid back; then john, also being laid back, then says "i told her i didnt and crawled OUT (not off) to sleep in the bath". if he had to crawl out of bed, it means they had sex. you have to listen closely folks, its all clear if you put your ears to the speaker. so in conclusion: the girl has him cause theyre at her room in her house; the norwegian wood is a reference to cheap wood, meaning that this relationship is cheap and meaningless, as john is implying the cheating he did in real life was; in the end, john had a great night, he drank wine, had sex, and in the morning she wasnt around and he didnt care cause it didnt mean anything to him anyway. so he lit the fireplace, and wasnt it good? norwegian wood.
  • Jon from Sunnyvale, CaOn the Anthology version, the line sounds like "So I lit her fire." "Her fire" seems more specific, like lighting a fire in her fireplace. "A fire" is more vague. It could be a fire in her fireplace, the apartment, a joint, etc. Maybe the song started more innocent but then John and Paul decided to get more devious!

    I like the Anthology version more than the Rubber Soul release. I like the "live in the studio" sound of that take, even if the vocal is monotone.
  • James from L.a., CaThe beauty of Beatles songs is that they are open to all sorts of interpretations, which are based solely upon the interpreter. As a teenager, I first heard "Norwegian Wood" and thought it was a story of a potential one-night stand ruined by bad chemistry. All these years later, I've heard the various other versions of what the song is about, and they all hold a bit of water because of the song's composition. I mean, I think the idea of the song's protagonist setting a fire to the apartment is absurd and silly, but it can be argued as such due to the lyrics themselves ("I lit a fire"-- pretty non-specific and vague) and also due to Lennon/McCartney's explanations... but then again, The Beatles liked pulling people's chains every now and then.

    Thus, it's useless to argue over who's right, because even The Beatles themselves sometimes find it hard to corroborate their own stories. Lennon cannot speak for himself anymore (nor can Harrison) and so who knows if one of them wasn't feeding an interviewer some line just to give them the story they were going to print anyways.

    Logically speaking, "Norwegian Wood" is a great song because there are plenty of details left out, and the listener is forced to fill those details in. This is the work of a master storyteller, really. Alfred Hitchcock admitted to leaving plot holes in his movies on purpose, so that audiences would argue over what really happened... and then go out and see the movie again!

    40 years later, the enduring popularity of The Beatles' music is a testament to their genius: they gave their fans just enough to ponder over, but were wise not to reveal ALL of their tricks or intentions. A little mystery goes a long way, as we can see in this Comments section.

    This is the first Beatles song I learned to play on guitar, and it's still one of my all-time favorites.
  • Taylor from Austin, TxI'd like to hear the Anthology 2 version. Sounds interesting. Anyway, awesome song, even if it is about an affair.

    Lennon Lives............
  • Nessie from Sapporo, Japan(Tom: "Someone once described this song as the most poignant song about furniture ever.") Well John was certainly pining.
  • Tommy from Glasgow Scotland, United StatesI think all my American friends are missing out on the famous Lennon use of puns. In this case a very British one "I once had a girl or should I say she once had me" Is a play on the word "had" in either to "have" sexually or to have someone make fun of you in a sarcastic manner. In this case he thinks she is up for some sex but turns out she is not therefore she had him. Also worth pointing out that the original mono release had a cough in the middle of it but was deleted in the stereo version and all other versions. I thought it very strange that the cough is not mentioned in the excellent Mark Lewisohn book "The Abbey Road Years" which seems to list every piece of noise ever made by The Beatles in the studio.
  • Fillip from Nutella, Cathe song is a poignant description of the times in which it was written. people come people go. some get layed some do not. we've all slept in a tub. we've all hovered way too late in someone's home in the hopes that something wondrous would happen to us. we sat on the floor, on a rug, in a room, in front of a fireplace. we may have set fires in the fireplace or out but the author also knew how to have fun with lyrics and mystery.
  • Stephanie from Princeton, NjAn addition to my last comment: I'm not so sure he burned her house down because she wouldn't give him any, but the "isn't it good, norwegian wood" could refer to the fact that he's building a fire to keep warm in his loneliness after being deserted by the girl. I prefer this explanation...burning her house down would be too psycho!
  • Stephanie from Princeton, NjWow, funny how a lot of guys on here think the song is about the girl wanting to get the guy.
    Are you guys delusional or what ;)

    I think LJ posted the most accurate comments. Think about it: the first line says "I once had a girl, or should I say, She once had me." Clearly, he's saying the girl had the upperhand here. The last line "Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood" is a bit of sad irony. He lost the girl.

    Also, Haruki Murakami wrote a book entitled "Norwegian Wood" (the book's theme is supposed to mirror the song's theme) and it's all about a guy and his twisted relationship w/ a very messed up girl who never had any romantic interest in him...but he was infatuated by her.
  • Rik from Boston, MaActually as printed in the 1977 Modern Drummer interview with Ringo Starr, the song Norwegian Wood is about Ringo's first romantic encounter with Maureen Cox. As it was too risque of a story at the time the song was released in 1965, John and Paul came up with the cover story of burning down the house.

    Ringo is part Norwegian. His father Richard Starkey is half Norwegian. The room represents the the female sexual anatomy and the wood the male sexual anatomy. So Norwegian Wood is a metaphor for Ringo's male anatomy. As Maureen only teased him "She showed me her room" their first night together, he lit a fire, i.e. masturbated the next morning.
  • Jeramy from Jonesboro, ArWhen it first emerged, this song was thought to have been about a lesbian or lesbianism in general.
  • Morteb from Stavanger, NorwayIt is believed by many that "Norwegian Wood" is not really what they say...
    In fact, and this I believe, it is:
    "Knowing she would", maybe the title is Norwegian wood because it's about cheap persons...Cheap wood,get it?
    So if you say "knowing she would" fast, it comes out as "Norwegian Wood"...
    Pretty clever those Beales guys...hehe;)
  • Lj from San Antonio, TxSorry, but it's very clear that it was John who did the chasing here, not the woman, from the opening lines. He corrects himself to say that he didn't have the girl but she had him. She was in charge of the relationship. He goes to her home, she doesn't have much money (no furniture), he hangs out and hangs out, drinking her wine. Sorry, if a guy didn't want some action, he would have left well before 2 a.m., unless he was gay. The "I work in the morning line" is GirlSpeak for Get outta here, you bum, I want to go to sleep because I have to work in the morning. He doesn't take the hint and leave, like an uninterested man would. No, he stays. He wants to stay so badly that he sleeps in the bathtub. Then when he wakes up in the morning, she's gone. She didn't even wake him up to say goodbye, how are you, get out, nothing. She just left him there. Alone. If that's a girl chasing a guy, there are some serious warped ideas about chicks chasing men in this world. That ain't how they do it.
  • Jeremy from Shanghai, ChinaSean is closest- it's the girl who is trying to get John, not the other way around. Lennon said about this song that he was trying to find a way to write about his many affairs without being too explicit. In the song John has been invited to a girl's room, so he knows what inevitably will happen. She invites him to sit down but there's no chair, so instead of sitting with her on the bed he plays coy and sits on the floor. She plies him with wine but they do nothing but chat until 2am. Finally she uses work as an excuse to call bedtime, but instead of joining her he continues his game and heads off to sleep in the bathtub. His satisfaction is in knowing she would, rather than carrying through with it. If one accepts this definition for Norwegian Wood (as described by George Martin) then lighting a fire is most likely lighting up a joint.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrI always interpreted Norwegian Wood as being a kind of wood from Norway. I've also heard that Norwegian Wood is wood from the Norway Pine, which is a species of a tree. But I most recently heard that Norwegian Wood is just a fancy expression for cheap pine. Norwegian Wood? Cheap Pine? I believe that when he said, I lit a fire, he meant that he lit a fire in the fireplace and reflected on his life. John Lennon sat on the rug, I can understand that, obviously because there were no chairs in the room, or maybe there was only one chair for the woman. What the heck? John Lennon slept in the tub? That's Bizarre! The tub would not be a very warm place to sleep in. Wouldn't you rather sleep in a bed under the warm covers?
  • Madeline from Knoxville, TnI always assumed she hadn't much money. There were no chairs so he had to sit on the rug, and there was no bed, so he slept in the tub. *shrug*
  • Jared from Chapel Hill, NcAlthough I prefer the simplest explanation, I picked up that John was referring to burning the place down before I'd ever read any literature on the song. Later, I found an interview with Paul McCartney, who explicitly said that it is the case--and that, furthermore, it was his idea!
  • Pete from New Orleans, LaNo, No, No. "I have to work in the morning" is a not terribly subtle way of hinting "Let's speed it up a bit, shall we?"
  • Sean from Simsbury, CtI always interpreted Norwegian Wood as slang for a pipe... so I thought he was saying so, I sparked up a joint, isn't it good, norwegian wood... course I can't argue with the writers though haha
  • Steve from London, EnglandI have always loved this song, it is so well performed aswell. Knowing that it was about an affair and the fact that Abbey Rd is in the St Johns Wood area of London, I had always presumed that John Lennon was using the expression "norwegian wood" to disguise the fact that it was actually in "st johns wood". - And now I am disappointed to learn about the real meaning of norwegian wood - it sounds dull with that meaning.
  • Natalia from Sydney, AustraliaI always imagined the line "So, I lit a fire" being about the man sitting down, lighting a fire in the fireplace and mulling over life. Needless to say, I was shocked when I found out that he burnt the place down. It isn't that kind of song, if anyone knows what i mean.
  • Tom from Houston, TxSomeone once described this song as the most poignant song about furniture ever. That's a good line.
  • Marina from Seattle, WaIn the book "A Day in the life," Paul McCartney says straight up that the guy sets fire to the woman's house in the end. Do you people really think you know more than Paul? ;)
  • Michael from Kearny, NjIn the Studio during the recording of this song, much to Producer George Martin's chagrin, John Lennon insisted on recording the song live (guitar and vocals at the same type), but Johns slightly intricate guitar picking caused him to concentrate more on the guitar, resulting in a dull monotone vocal, as can be heard in an early take of the song in the Anthology 2 set. In the end, John gave in to George Martin and recorded his vocals afterwards.
  • Michael from Kearny, NjJohn Lennon wrote this song about spending the night with another woman. He later admitted that he intentionally wrote the nonsense lyics (about sleeping in the bath) to keep his wife Cynthia from knowing the truth. Oh, and the fire was in the fireplace, not the furniture...
  • Reuven from Tel Aviv, Israel"so , i lit a fire" can also mean he was frustrated and had a smoke
    ( yea..sorry ...all about drugs again ) .

    anyway ...i wonder why ikea never set it in
    one of their ( funny ) commercials.
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ilor maybe john was just being himself and having fun when people try to figure out his songs.
  • Mike from Pittsburgh, PaMaybe he simply lit a fire in the fireplace...
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaI like Sean's interpretation. It makes more sense. :D
  • Paulo from New York, NyIn an interview with Shankar (I think it was Rolling Stone), Shankar stated that he thought the sitar was "really bad."
  • Sean from Warwick, RiHmm to me this song does not sound like the man in the song is trying to get the woman... instead it sounds like the woman is trying to get the man... She asks him to take a seat and theres no chair (meaning sit on the bed) then he says he bides his time drinking her wine, then she gives him a clever little flirtatous remark "well i gotta work tomorrow" and starts to laugh and hes like uhh i don't and goes and sleeps in the bath instead of with her... i have also heard that norwegian wood is supposed to be a homophone for "knowing she would" maybe meaning its good to know she would sleep with him but he isnt going to... now im not saying i know for sure but im just giving my input and interpretation
  • Don from Rapid City, Sd1: The Yardbirds recorded a version of "Heart Full of Soul" with a sitar solo by Jeff Beck several months before The Beatles started "Norwegian Wood".
    2: Norwegian Wood was not fake wood, but it was indeed cheap.
    3: Both Lennon & McCartney have gone on the record as saying that the guy burns down the girl's apartment at the end of the song,
  • Pj from Lowell, Ma He didn't burn the house down, "So, I lit a fire" means he sparked up a joint.
  • Amanda from Tampa, FlGeorge learned to master the sitar from Ravi Shankar, who is the biological father of Norah Jones.
  • Liza from The Dalles, OrWow. I wouldn't have ever guessed.
  • Michael from Baltimore, MdMost people think this is a love song which is farthest from the truth. Its about a women he meets who won't give him any, because she has to work in the morning, and he burns her house down.

see more comments

Editor's Picks

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.


KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.

Michael Franti

Michael FrantiSongwriter Interviews

Franti tells the story behind his hit "Say Hey (I Love You)" and explains why yoga is an integral part of his lifestyle and his Soulshine tour.

Mike Campbell

Mike CampbellSongwriter Interviews

Mike is lead guitarist with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and co-writer of classic songs like "Boys Of Summer," "Refugee" and "The Heart Of The Matter."

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?

Who Did It First?

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?